What will TV viewers get to see in the world’s most famous court complex?


ameras will start rolling on Thursday to broadcast the sentence at the Old Bailey for the first time.

– What will be shown on television?

Only the judge will be visible, there will be no view of the defendant, lawyers or court staff in the dock.

– How has the law changed to allow this to happen?

Under the Crown Court (Recording and Broadcasting) Order 2020, High Court and Senior Circuit Judges are allowed to film as they pass sentences in criminal cases.

Court No. 1 at the Old Bailey in London (Stephen Russo/PA) / PA Wire

– Why didn’t this happen when the law was changed in 2020?

During the Covid crisis, courts were grappling with the impact on jury trials and the rapid roll-out of video link access to court.

– Does the change now mean that any member of the public can film in court?

No, filming or photographing in court is still prohibited under normal circumstances and any member of the public who is caught doing so risks being found in contempt of court.

This also applies to anyone joining the hearing via video link.

– Why will public filming of court proceedings be a threat to the administration of the member of justice?

There are many potential risks.

Vulnerable witnesses and victims may be prevented from testifying.

A police van carrying members of the Guildford Four arrived at London’s Old Bailey. All four were returning to court after 14 years in prison to hear appeals against their convictions (Michael Stephens/PA) / PA Archive

This can add to the anxiety of the defendants and the families of the victims.

Furthermore, there may be a risk of reporting restrictions being inaccurate, particularly in cases involving young people.

– Who will broadcast the sentencing remarks?

Sky News, the BBC, ITN and the PA news agency will broadcast the footage and make it available online.

– Who is the judge involved in the first case?

Senior Circuit Judge Sarah Munro QC has sat at the Old Bailey since 2017 and has extensive experience presiding over complex and high-profile cases, including murder.

– What is the first televised sentence about?

Defendant Ben Oliver, 25, from Bexley Heath, south London, admitted murdering his grandfather. He is about to be sentenced, after a trial he is acquitted of the felony charge of murder.

– What is the Old Bailey?

The world’s most famous criminal court has been the scene of many of the most infamous cases in British history.

The first “Old Bailey” was built in 1539 at a cost of £6,000, with a new Old Bailey opened in 1774.

A general view of the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey (Ian Nicholson/PA) / PA Archive

It became the Central Criminal Court by Act of Parliament in 1834 and still occupies the site of Newgate Prison, which has stood for 800 years.

It remains the property of the Corporation of London.– How will it be decided which high-profile cases to cover next?

Broadcast media groups will be able to apply to film and broadcast sentencing remarks, with a judge deciding whether to grant the application.

– Will there be cameras in any other Crown Courts in England and Wales?

The first sentencing will take place at the Old Bailey, but sentencing will be televised from other high-profile crown courts.

– Which judges can be filmed?

They will either be High Court or Senior Circuit Judges sitting in the Crown Court.

– Will judges still wear traditional gowns and wigs on television?

Yes. Judges and barristers still wear wigs in court, although rules have been relaxed slightly for video-link hearings during the pandemic.

Members of the Judiciary (Victoria Jones/PA) / PA Archive

Some say that wigs are old-fashioned and should be done away with, but many see them as necessary to maintain formality and respect for the court, separating lawyers from the common people.

– How do televised sentencings benefit the general public?

People will experience the courtroom setting first-hand and watch and hear judges explain the reasoning behind their sentences.

– And how does it benefit the criminal justice system?

The jury system relies on lay members of the public, who have little or no prior experience with the legal system before being called for jury service.

A better understanding of what happens in court builds confidence.